COMPETITION Premier League
DATE Saturday 10th August 2019
PREVIEW A new season and a home game for the first fixture for a change.  So, we welcome newly promoted Aston VIlla to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium with new faces on both sides.  This is perhaps less surprising for the visitors, as they strengthen to compete i n the Premier Legaue, but a real shock for Tottenham fans who have been without a new signing for 18mmonths and then four come along at once.

Jack Clarke won't be seen until next season, as he is back on loan at Leeds United, but Tanguy Ndombele will probably take up a a place in the Spurs midfield, while Giovani Lo Celso, who only arrived on Thursday, will most likely be on the bench.  Ryan Sessegnon has a hamstring injury that will delay his debut, while Dele Alli is also suffering the same problem.  It will be interesting to see if Pochettino will change the system that has served the club so well or whether he will wait until he has a fit squad to tinker with the line-up, but with Christian Eriksen, Danny Rose and Toby Alderweireld all still at the Lane after rumours they might move on, it allows Mauricio to select a side that has the same spine as last season.

Villa have splashed over 100 million pounds on 12 new players.  Tyrone Mings was there last season, so his permanent signing means he has little fitting in to do.  The rest might take a bit of time to gel, but Marvellous Nakamba and Wesley should be OK, both having played for Club Brugge last season.  Most of the signings have come in form abroad or have played infrequently at the top level and those that have have generally played for struggling sides - James Chester (Hull City), Neil Taylor (Swansea City), Ahmed El Mohamaday (Middlesbrough) and Matt Targett (Southampton and Fulham).  Jack Grealish was with Villa when they got relegated and did a great deal to get them promoted through the play-offs last season, so will be able to use his Premier League experience and the signing of Tom Heaton in goal is a sound investment, with his performances earning him a call-up to the England squad.

As for the remainder of the squad, I only know Kourtney Hause, who was at Wolves and was loaned to Villa last season; Henri Lansbury, who has been trawling the Championship on loan after Arsenal released him; John McGinn is a hard-working midfielder with a terrific shot and was sought after by existing Premier League clubs in the summer, but has signed a new deal at Villa Park; Jota, Dean Smith knows from Brentofrd and his signing from Birmingham was astute, as he is a nippy wide man who scores a good few goals; Douglas Luiz is a Brazilian signed from Manchester City, but had last seaso on loan at Girona in Spain; Midfielder Trezeguet has come in from Egypt and will be an unknown quantity to many.

Having had little time to put the team through their paces, Smith will be hoping that it all comes together on the day and against a Spurs side who had a good pre-season and appear to be a reasonably settled side, it might be quite an opening day test for the Villains.  I think there will be a lot of effort from Villa on their first day back in the big time, but Tottenham should be able to overcome that if the willingness is there.  A win to start of the season would be a good way to erase the memory of the finish to last season's Premier League campaign, so I take Spurs to edge a victory.
PREDICTION Tottenham Hotspur    2        Aston Villa   1
Spurs will be without the suspended Juan Foyth (Who also is out injured with an ankle ligament strain) and Heung-Min Son, while Dele Alli and Ryan Sessegnon (both hamstring) and Serge Aurier (hand) are out.  Ben Davies may be ready to return and Victor Wanyama and Eric Dier are both fit to be selected.
Aston Villa TEAM NEWS :
James Chester will not fit to play in the game at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Sky Sports Main Event - live coverage
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Premier League Kick off 17.30
Tottenham Hotspur  3 (0) Aston Villa  1 (1)


Ndombele  72m 21s
Kane  85m 25s
Kane  89m 37s


McGinn 08m 14s

Lamela (not leaving the pitch at the nearest point)  88




Crowd :   60,407 Weather :  Windy, bright, dry
Referee :  Chris Kavanagh (Manchester) Assistant Referees :  Mr. Daniel Cook; Mrs. Sian Massey-Ellis
Fourth Official :  Tim Robinson  
Video Assistant Referee :  Stuart Attwell Assistant Video Assistant Referee :  Simon Long
Aston Villa kicked off and played towards the Park Lane end in the first half.
Game time : -  90 + 6 minutes.
Tottenham Hotspur : kit Aston Villa : kit
  1  Hugo LLORIS  (c)

  3  Danny ROSE
  6  Davinson SANCHEZ

  8  Harry WINKS  (23  Christian ERIKSEN  64)
7  Moussa SISSOKO

27  Lucas MOURA
28  Tanguy NDOMBELE    (29  Oliver SKIPP  90+2)
1  Erik LAMELA       (14  Georges-Kevin NKOUDOU  88)

10  Harry KANE     

Unused subs: 
  Victor WANYAMA
24  Serge AURIER

    1 Tom HEATON

22  Björn ENGELS
40  Tyrone MINGS
  3  Neil TAYLOR

14  Conor HOURIHANE  (  6  Douglas LUIZ  82)
  7  John McGINN 
21  Anwar EL GHAZI

  9  WESLEY  (26  Jonathan KODJIA  74)

Unused subs: 
12  Jed STEER
15  Ezri KONSA
18  Matt TARGETT
  8  Henri LANSBURY

Manager :  Mauricio Pochettino Manager :  Dean Smith
Sponsor :   AIA Shirt sponsor :  W88
Kit Supplier :  Nike Kit Supplier :   Kappa
Match report

A new season always comes with hope for the forthcoming nine months and the sun shone down on the new stadium, although outside the wind whistled around the structure, as gales hit the country.  Inside the safe haven the hope looked to be shattered within ten minutes, as spurs struggled through the first half, but Pochettino got into the side at half-time and they came out a changed side, going on to dominate and end up 3-1 winners.

The Villa side retained seven players in their starting line-up from last season, as their fans noisily marked the club's return to the Premier League.  Only making it back through the play-offs did not hinder their recruitment, signing 12 new players, but the new players in the team produced the spine of the side, with Heaton, Engels, Trezeguet and Wesley all making their debuts.  Spurs were mostly unchanged, apart from the introduction of Tanguy Ndombele and the omission of Jan Vertonghen with Sanchez replacing him.  It was reported after the game that Jan was not injured, but maybe he was being saved for Manchester City next week.

Before the kick-off there was more than a minute's applause for the late Justin Edinburgh, whose family were in attendance, with the Villa fans respectfully joining in.  Paul and Clive Allen came out at half-time to reminisce about our former full-back too.

Although Villa kicked off, Moura was soon taking the ball off a hesitant Elmohamady, 15 yards inside the Villa half and running at goal.  The Villa man got back at him enough to knock him off his stride, forcing him to blaze a shot over the bar, but the Brazilian had an even better chance.  Four minutes had gone when Danny Rose bent a cross behind the defence and lurking between Mings and Taylor, Moura stooped to head unmarked at goal.  Unfortunately, his header lacked power, although was downward and straight at Heaton.  It all looked quite promising, as Spurs were finding space in wide positions, but then they were behind in the ninth minute.  Grealish played the ball back to Mings in the Villa left back position.  He hoofed a long ball forward and Wesley occupied Sanchez in a physical tussle and the ball went beyond them to McGinn, who ran on and headed forward.  Rose was catching him, but when they got to the penalty area, the Spurs defender slipped and from 12 yards out, the Scottish international put the ball past Lloris, left-footed across him.

This wasn't in the script and stunned the stadium and for a while it looked like it did the same to the Spurs players.  It looked as though it had thrown the team's shape out and they lost the width they had enjoyed in the very early part of the match and with Villa getting men back behind the ball quickly, it was proving difficult to break down.  Wesley was hitting the ground on a regular basis and El Ghazi dramatically falling under every challenge, while McGinn was steaming into tackles, finding himself not as hard as Harry Winks as he needed treatment after one clash.  Following a foul by Rose, Villa could have gone 2-0 ahead, with Trezeguet being played in on the right of our box, but he came onto his left foot and Toby got a block on his shot to protect the goal.  Offensively, Toby was getting his long diagonal passes to his targets, but nothing as coming into the box with much quality and Ndombele was making some nice moves, but trying to play the ball through the packed Villa defence on the edge of their box was like trying to thread one through a needle, while Trezeguet got away on the Villa right o put a cross in, but it flew right across goal with no claret and blue shirt near it, luckily for Spurs.

Kane was getting little service and when a cross did come in, he headed it wide.  Tottenham were winning corners, but failed to trouble the goal and just after the half hour, Lamela's attempted cross from a short one was blocked by Grealish, who ran 50 odd yards with Erik chasing him, before playing Trezeguet in on the left, but he could only produce a weak low shot that was easy for Hugo to save.  Harry Kane did fire a shot over the bar from just inside the area, but Villa's new striker Wesley should have done better when he got his head to a free-kick in the middle of the box, but it was directed straight at Lloris with little power.  An extra touch on the right of the box by Sissoko saw a chance to cross evaporate that was followed by Lamela setting up Winksy for a shot from left of centre 20 yards out ,but he dragged it wide right of the goal.  Moussa went close (for him) with a 25 yard drive, Ndombele dinked a cross from the right of the box to the far post, where Kane dropped off his man to be in the right position to get a free header, but it powered over the bar.  Harry looked like he was set to equalise in added time, as Erik's through ball sent him clear to the left of centre, but he dragged his shot wide and was offside anyway. 

Spurs created a fair few chances in that first half, but the only one they had to show that was on target was Moura's early header.  Nothing else looked like threatening the score-line and the play was slow and the movement off the ball static.  There looked little ambition to step up the tempo which played into Villa's hands to get as many men back behind the ball as possible.  They weren't quite parking the bus, but were making it more than difficult while looking to hit on the break.  It was difficult to see where a goal might come from and the game looked as though it was screaming out for Eriksen to come on and unlock the defence.

Within seconds of the restart, Alderweireld played a long, straight ball into the Villa box and Lamela had time to chest it down, but was crowded out, with Sissoko re-cycling the ball and it ran left for Erik to latch onto it, but a defender threw a block on the shot.  The two players linked again, with Lamela's left wing cross coming all the way across the box to Moussa and he looked like he was going to fire in a shot, but Heaton came out to him quickly and he ended up pulling his shot across goal that went out for a throw-in.  While Spurs were pushing for an equaliser at one end, Villa had a penalty shout at the other.  Winks lost the ball 25 yards out and it was quickly moved in to McGinn in the box and as he tried to go past Sanchez, he went down under an untidy challenge and the VAR came into operation.  There had been few appeals from the visiting players, but the wait is interminable and then the screens showed "No Penalty" and the game could continue. 

Lamela was working hard to create chances and he slipped a pass left to Kane when running through the middle, but Mings blocked it for a corner and then, when Harry put in  wicked low cross from the right, Engels did well to acrobatically clear from in front of his own goal.  Tanguy tried his luck from long range, but was way too high and then VAR was called on again, as McGinn was involved in a tangle of legs after fouling Walker-Peters and was cleared of a red card offence.  KWP was getting forward more and had a shot deflected for a corner just before Pochettino made the change of Eriksen coming on for Winks, who had taken a couple of hefty challenges.  The corner did find a Spurs head, with Toby heading over at the near post, which made a change from Mings getting his head to it, as he did on most occasions.  And it was Mings who blocked another shot from Harry Kane as he came in from the left.  The defender was also there when Christian tried to put Kane away through the middle, but Heaton came out of his box to head clear, but put it straight down the middle of the pitch to Lamela, whose shot back past him wasn't powerful enough to trouble the former Bournemouth man., who stopped the ball five yards in front of goal.

The pressure was building and Kane set up Eriksen, but he got his shot all wrong and hit it well wide to the left from 18 yards out.  Eriksen had another shot blocked and then Sissoko followed up and his shot went out for a corner off a defender.  Ndombele had been looking tired, but from the corner, it came out to Eriksen again and he bent a ball into the goalmouth, where Davinson Sanchez got his shot on target, but Heaton made a good reflex save.  The ball went out to the left side of the goal and Kane got there surrounded by three Villa shirts, but he had the presence to play it back to Moura, who quickly had two men on him.  He held them off and laid the ball back out of the box for Tanguy to strike a powerful side-footed effort that he planted past Heaton's dive and was helped by Mings getting out of the way of the shot as it passed him.  It was an impressive goal and brought Spurs the reward for the second half attacking intent.  It was a great moment for our record signing and it really lifted him, as for the rest of the game, he looked fresh and willing to show off his range of skills.

Villa replaced Wesley with Jonathan (Old) Kodjia, with the player being replaced taking an age to leave the field.  Villa were looking out on their feet, as Spurs put wave upon wave of attacks together.  Kane had a shot blocked from a few yards out and from Eriksen's corner, Rose won the ball and was brought down in the D by substitute Jota.  It was central and looked ideal for Christian to have a go.  With the new ruling about not having men in the wall, Spurs put a wall in front of the wall and they split as Eriksen ran up to the ball and picked a shot through a gap in the Villa wall, but it was just within Heaton's reach to allow him to push the ball wide.  A minute later, Ndombele crossed from the left and Sanchez tried an overhead kick, but got it all wrong, Walker-Peters put in a great ball but there was nobody on the end of it, Moura had a shot blocked for a corner and from it, Toby fired in a shot that came off Kodjia and flew straight at Heaton, but appeals for handball were ignored by the referee, even though it looked as if it hit a raised arm.  But that's a new interpretation of the laws and Kavanagh decided he wasn't making an "un-natural" shape !

Spurs continued to press forward and Sissoko obviously fancied a goal today, as he struck another shot that was blocked behind.  With four minutes remaining, the crucial goal came and it was Harry Kane who go it.  Lamela did well running at Villa, but lost the ball and as Jack Grealish dwelt on it a yard outside the Villa box, Erik won the ball off him.  Driving at goal, he hit a 20 yard shot that Mings blocked, it hit Engels and dropped between them for Harry Kane to pounce and dig out the shot with his left foot from 10 yards out, firing it past Heaton's right hand to make it 2-1.  The goal had been coming, but was well deserved for the perseverance in the way they took the game to a tiring Villa.

Following the goal, Pochettino brought on Georges-Kevin Nkoudou for Lamela and he made his way to the halfway line to go off, but because the referee had told him to go off on the other side of the pitch, he booked the Argentine winger, while Wesley had got away with it, as had Hourihane just before Tottenham' second goal.  But Spurs had not finished, with Moura firing a shot wide as he ran in from the right, before a last minute goal from Harry Kane sealed the victory.  Sissoko chested the ball down in the centre circle and set off on a straight run down the middle of the pitch, before passing to Harry on the 18 yard line to his left.  One touch to set the ball in front of him and then a side-footed right foot strike precisely out of the keeper's reach to his left that put the ball nestling into the bottom corner and Spurs were home and hosed at 3-1.  It was another piece of clinical finishing from Kane, but Sissoko's run had been typical of his second half performance.

Ndombele left the field to be replaced by Oliver Skipp and he got a great ovation. McGinn tried to pull one back for Villa with a shot from the edge of the box, but it went a couple of feet wide, while their only other shot of the half had come a few minutes earlier, with Kodjia putting a tame effort straight at Hugo.  The last chance of the game came when Nkoudou used his pace against a team dead on their feet, racing in from the left wing to shoot at goal, but Engels blocked it to preserve the score-line at 3-1, which probably reflected the balance of the match, although Villa might have had more than their one in the first period.

Pochettino got the team to spread the play more in the second half, with Sissoko playing in an advanced position ahead of Walker-Peters, with Lamela pulling further left to stretch the Villa defence out of the packed central areas.  Spurs over-powered Villa and the effort the visitors put in during the first half to quell our play came back to haunt them as they began to fade with 25 minutes left.  It will be a problem that Spurs have to cope with often this season at home, as teams will come and defend with their full eleven and we will need to break them down.  They did that today and Christian Eriksen was instrumental in that, so his future might be influential in our season or Giovani Lo Celso might have to assume his mantle, should Eriksen depart for a "new challenge".

Whatever happens, it was the winning start we needed and after a sluggish first half, we came good and will need to be on it for the whole 90  minutes next week at Manchester City.

Charlie Mason

Match facts

Jack Grealish has lost each of his last 19 Premier League games, the longest run of consecutive defeats suffered by a player in the history of the competition  (BBC).


How the players did
Hugo Lloris No chance with the goal, with little else to do of any difficulty.
Kyle Walker-Peters Showed good strength and a good deal of skill, but when in advanced positions, he cut the ball back for others to cross when faced with defenders.
Toby Alderweireld Strong in the air and dealt with Wesley well.  Hit great diagonals and  ventured forward in the second half.
Davinson Sanchez Caught out by Wesley's physicality for the goal, but settled and was unlucky not to score prior to Ndombele's goal.
Danny Rose Another storming performance from our left back.  Slipped when trying to cut off McGinn for the goal, but generally was solid back and forward.
Harry Winks A non-stop performance by Winksy.  Important tackles made and looked to move Spurs forward, but needed more movement by others off the ball.
Moussa Sissoko A quiet first half, but impressive in the second half.  His runs at the Villa defence were too strong for them to cope with and showed good awareness to assist Kane's second goal.
Tanguy Ndombele A very good debut.  Quiet in first half, but showed good ability to shift the ball to lose opponents.  After his well taken goal, he grew in confidence and showed come nice back-heels.  If this is 30-40%, then I look forward to the rest of the season !
Lucas Moura Started like he was on fire and should really have put away the header.  Kept plugging away, but didn't seem to be keen to take Villa players on.
Erik Lamela All-round good performance.  Worked hard to try and make openings, working back when he didn't have the ball.  Excellent determination to take the ball off Grealish for Kane's first goal.
Harry Kane A so-so first half, relying on scraps really.  Second half, he pulled wide and then when he got the ball within shooting distance, he put the ball away.  August curse ?  What August curse ?
Christian Eriksen Space materialises around him and his use of the ball is excellent.  Unlucky with his free-kick and was key in making Villa's defence open up.
Georges-Kevin Nkoudou Using his pace against a tiring defence was a good idea to keep the ball at the right end.  Forced a block to his shot after a good run.
Oliver Skipp Not a lot of time to get involved, but one important interception and keen to get on with things.

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What you thought
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Other scores during this week :
Liverpool 4 Norwich City 1 Friday
West Ham United London 0 Manchester City 5 Saturday
Bournemouth 1 Sheffield United 1 Saturday
Burnley 3 Southampton 0 Saturday
Crystal Palace 0 Everton 0 Saturday
Watford 0 Brighton & Hove Albion 3 Saturday
Newcastle United 0 Arsenal 1 Sunday
Leicester City 0 Wolverhampton Wanderers 0 Sunday
Manchester United 4 Chelsea 0 Sunday



League Table  2019-20
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Manchester City 1 1 0 0 5 0 3 +5
2 Manchester United 1 1 0 0 4 0 3 +4
3 Liverpool 1 1 0 0 4 1 3 +3
4 Brighton & Hove Albion 1 1 0 0 3 0 3 +3
5 Burnley 1 1 0 0 3 0 3 +3
6 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1 1 0 0 3 1 3 +2
7 Arsenal 1 1 0 0 1 0 3 +1
8 Bournemouth 1 0 1 0 1 1 1 0
9 Sheffield United 1 0 1 0 1 1 1 0
10 Crystal Palace 1 0 1 0 0 0 1 0
11 Everton 1 0 1 0 0 0 1 0
12 Leicester City 1 0 1 0 0 0 1 0
13 Wolverhampton Wanderers 1 0 1 0 0 0 1 0
14 Newcastle United 1 0 0 1 0 1 0 -1
15 Aston Villa 1 0 0 1 1 3 0 -2
16 Norwich City 1 0 0 1 1 4 0 -3
17 Southampton 1 0 0 1 0 3 0 -3
18 Watford 1 0 0 1 0 3 0 -3
19 Chelsea 1 0 0 1 0 4 0 -4
20 West Ham United London 1 0 0 1 0 5 0 -5


Position before match :  N/A
Position after match :  5th
Position after the weekend :  6th


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